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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )


We pull into the school parking lot and rehearse the do-nots. "So Mommy has to meet with Nathan's teacher, and what are the rules again? How does Mommy expect you to behave?"

And from the backseat, Andrew's voice rises confidently: "No running. No screaming. No punching. And NO DILLY-DALLYING."

* * * * *

Camille and I walk quickly to the subway station, Starbucks in hand. I spill some coffee on my jacket, and she smiles smugly, probably remembering the speech I'd given her on the way, that I wasn't buying her hot chocolate this morning because every time I did, it ended up all over her shirt.

As we come down the stairs, an approaching train rumbles, and the brakes squeal. It is Sunday morning, and if we miss this train, we'll wait at least five minutes for another.

"Quick! C'mon, sweetie. We can make this train."

And I race ahead.

The doors gape open, and I hop on, Camille another 3 1/2 steps behind me.

I turn just as they begin to close. My arm reaches through the gap, and I throw my weight against the doors.

But they don't budge.

Five inches of opening, too small for either of us. We're moments away from losing our grip, seconds from when that train will lurch forward and leave a little girl of 7 alone in an empty subway station.

It is that still, silent moment of panic, when the possibilities are too terrifying to consider.

And then he jumps from his seat, the man with strong hands, and forces the doors open. I yank Camille inside the train, and she tumbles into my arms. I hug her breathlessly."

"I am so sorry," I whisper, as we collapse into a seat. "We should have waited for the next one."

* * * * *